Category Archives: Bigotry

Lost Cause Festers Do Mardi Gras

Photograph via SPLC.

In the past, Carnival has united New Orleans. The first season after Katrina and the Federal Flood was both memorable and moving. Some outsiders criticized us for throwing a massive street party after a disaster but it’s what we do in the Crescent City. In 2018, divisiveness is in the air, driven by our old “pals” the Lost Causers.

A guy named Charles Marsala and his group Save NOLA Heritage (not to be confused with the tasty veal dish) are selling the “Forever Lee Circle” beads you see at the top of the post. They’ve set up a Facebook page to help hawk their divisive wares and mock their critics. Hawk-n-mock sounds vaguely Trumpian.  Since the only thing the Insult Comedian and I have in common is a fondness for nicknaming people, this Lost Causer will hereinafter be called Spoiled Veal Marsala.

Marsala spoke to WWL-TV the other day:

Marsala is a part of Save Nola Heritage, a group that wants to educate and demand more transparency from the city about what it does with public art, such as monuments.

“We spent the money from the bead sales, we put banners on the monument itself. Robert E. Lee’s birthday was about two weeks ago,” he said.

Marsala said the beads are not meant to be racist in any way. He wants them to serve as a reminder that Lee Circle still needs attention.

Spoiled Veal Marsala’s group is NOT about transparency. It’s about nostalgia for the Confederacy, Jim Crow, slavery, and white supremacy. Instead of banners, they should adorn the empty pedestals with nooses to “honor” the lynchings that used to be depressingly common in the Deep South.

Carnival throws in New Orleans have been traditionally non-commercial and relatively apolitical. Some parading krewes have already asked their members not to throw any of the Lee Circle Forever beads. I suspect they’ll turn up when some of the more retrograde krewes roll: I omit the names to protect the guilty.

Another weird feature of the Forever Lee Circle Facebook page is a cartoon of the three deposed statue dudes, Davis, Beauregard, and Lee, riding a float. They’re throwing books labelled history. I though the Lost Causers were about saving their view of history, not throwing it away.

It’s a pity that they don’t depict Jeff Davis in drag.

It’s no coincidence that Southern Lost Cause Festers have risen again with a white nationalist talking terlet in the White House. The Trumpers have signaled that bigotry, intolerance, and hatred are back in fashion. There are “good people on both sides,” according to the president*. Wrong again, Donny, baby. There’s the right side and the all-white side.

I said this about our Spank-a-Mole box earlier today:

Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole.

That goes double for such enduring pests as racism, xenophobia, sexism, and religious bigotry. They have to beaten into submission. Every time we think we have the hate moles on the run, they pop up again. People of good will hoped that the election of our first black president would be the death knell of overt racism in the country. Our optimism was premature: haters keep popping up.

I’ve been pleased by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the beads as well as to a fundraiser held at the Mid City Lane Rock ‘n’ Bowl to raise money for local Lost Cause Festers. I hope touring acts will avoid playing that venue as its owner is an ardent Trumper and supporter of Save NOLA Heritage. Just say no to bigots.

The last word goes to John Boutte with his interpretation of Neil Young’s Southern Man:

 

There are always people like this.

Somehow, she thought this was OK.

Something, somewhere in her life convinced Harley Barber that it was OK to open her mouth and pour forth a river of vile, putrid, ignorant racism.

Somehow, she figured she’d get away with it. Maybe it was her “finsta” profile, a fake Instagram account that she erroneously thought would provide her with the anonymity to act with impunity. Maybe it was alcohol or the invincibility that comes with youth that told her nothing bad would happen because nobody knew her or nobody took this stuff seriously. Maybe it was a life of privilege or a “mob mentality” that gave her a sense of protection from whatever might be out there.

Maybe, she didn’t care who saw it or what they thought.

After all, as she pointed out multiple times, she’s in the South, where denigrating people based on the color of their skin seemed to be as normal as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. After all, she’s from NEW JERSEY, which gave us such greatness as Chris Christie’s bloated bravado and the anger-soaked rhetoric of “The Sopranos.”

After all, she has a fur vest from Nieman Marcus, bitches, so don’t fucking think of “snaking” her again.

Like many people, I watched the first video, and shook my head at the stupidity of her thoughtless words. What the fuck is wrong with her, I asked myself. I wonder how she’s going to try to get out of this.

Like many people, I watched the second video where she… whatever the infinity factor of “doubled down” is on her racist tirade, dropping n-bomb after n-bomb as a dare, shouting that she couldn’t give a fuck less if it was Martin Luther King Day. It was like watching a car wreck unfold in front of me on the highway: First a swerve, then a skid, then suddenly it was flipping over and over and over before catching fire and exploding in the ditch.

As she finished up and the video halted, my throat locked and my mouth filled with ashes. I thought about her parents. I thought of them because of the simple rule my father gave me when he sent me off to college: “Have fun, do whatever you want, but don’t bring shame on the family. It’s my name, too.” I lack the capacity to imagine what my father would have thought if a horrific personal failing on my part had made the family name the number one trending story on the Washington Post’s website for an entire day.

(Her estranged mother stepped forward today and said she completely agreed with the decision Alabama made to rid itself of her daughter. She said the child was not raised to be a racist, although with the few exceptions of those people in scary documentaries on the Klan, I can’t think of anyone who would state their child had been raised for such a purpose.)

What I do know is that various people will take various things from this incident. Perhaps those who view the Greek system as elitist and racist will have another exhibit in their case against it. Perhaps students will see that there is no fool-proof level of privacy in a digital age and once again, we have a fool who proved it. Perhaps social media users will understand that they are always playing with live ammunition and that consequences exist for every action taken in the public arena.

Unfortunately, few people will take away the one thing we all need to understand when it comes to our humanity and our ability to live and breathe as a nation. For every poverty-soaked redneck who sees their losses as the black man’s gains and for every person who professes love for the “history” of the Confederacy and for “fogey” who “just grew up in a different time,” we likely have at least one Harley Barber.

Harley Barber is 19. She is from the “union” side of the fight. She has the money to attend an out of state school and pledge a sorority. On the surface, she would lack any reason to harbor the racist resentments we can so easily ascribe to those fungible elements of time, place and deprivation listed above. And yet there she was, not “making a mistake” of using race as a costume or “failing to fully grasp” what it meant to appropriate another person’s culture, but rather defiantly displaying her racial animus.

The thing people need to understand is that there are Harley Barbers all around us, quietly lurking, politely nodding and peacefully existing. They “pretend to like black people” enough that on the surface, there’s no reason to think otherwise. They are the “least racist people” you would ever know. Until they reveal themselves with an n-bomb, a “Miss Housekeeper” comment or a general flinch of disgust about “those people.”

In each of those people, under that polite surface and those occasional dermis-level glimpses rests the heart and soul of that video: A rich, thick hatred that only lies dormant because to release it would be to their demise.

Quote Of The Day: Radical MLK Edition

The MSM portrays Martin Luther King as a Civil Rights teddy bear when, in fact, he was a tough-minded man. He *was* pragmatic and believed in non-violent action BUT he was a more radical and polarizing figure in his day than the man from the “I have a dream” speech. He would not have accomplished so much if he hadn’t been a bad ass.

There are many good radical MLK quotes out there. This one fits our era quite well:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”

— Where Do We Go From Here1967

In 2018, we’re experiencing a backlash to the election of our first black president even if the Current Occupant maintains that he’s “the least racist person you’ll ever meet.”

Yeah, right.

Shithead Says Shithole

Today on President’s* say the darndest things:

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked lawmakers why the United States allows people to immigrate “from shithole countries” like Haiti and African countries, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the report, Trump made the remark in reference to Haiti and African countries, and then suggested the United States should allow more immigrants from countries like Norway instead. Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

The MSM is having the vapors right now over having to say shithole. That’s half the fun of this latest flow of rascist diarrhea from the Insult Comedian. We already knew that he hates people of color and thinks African is full of cannibals like in cheesy old B-movies. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

Past potty-mouthed presidents had the good sense not to curse in big meetings, and their staffs were loyal and did not leak stories wherein presidents used what the failing NYT would call “off-color language.” We didn’t know what a foul mouth Tricky Dick had until the White House Tapes were full of expletives deleted to my unexpurgated delight. Truman and LBJ were known to swear like sailors too. It’s not the language, it’s the unvarnished bigotry.

As to the Norwegian  comments.  (ICYMI, I’m half-Norwegian: my darling mother was one of them very white white people.) Has Trump ever had Norwegian food? Lutefisk and Pickled Herring should be banned from the country. Ack. Barf.

I think it’s time to have a cuisine test: only immigrants from countries with good food can be admitted. It’s one way to keep Nigel Farage from immigrating.

It’s just another day in Trumpworld where Shitheads say shit like shithole everyday.

Quote Of The Day: Judge Pervert Edition

It comes from columnist Gail Collins in the Failing New York Times:

Suppose your state was having a very important U.S. Senate election and one of the candidates was an upstanding family man who was going to vote against all the things you most want Congress to do. And the other was an awful slimeball who you could count on to support all the things you believe in. Which way would you go?

No fair answering “to another state.”

Yeah, I know it’s a rhetorical question, not a quote. Sue me.  If the answer is vote for the slimeball, Judge Pervert wins tomorrow. The wonder is that it’s as close as it is. Alabama is redder that the clay in the northeastern part of the state. White Republicans seem to regard Democrats as space aliens in Birkenstock’s. Nativism is a big part of Judge Pervert’s appeal such as it is.

I feel for the respectable, educated people of Alabama. The gret stet of Louisiana had to deal with David Dukkke in a run-off in consecutive years. In the 1990 senate race, Dukkke faced long-time Conservative Democratic senator Bennett Johnston. He was neither wildly popular nor unpopular, he also had the support of the then-Republican President and his predecessor. The Goober race of 1991 was scarier but economic arguments sank Dukkke. At that point in time, we were still a purple state so Dukkke went down both times.

There have been attempts by sane Alabamians to use economic issues against Judge Pervert. It doesn’t appear to have worked that well but there could be shy Doug Jones voters. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. I think embarrassment over perviness and Moore’s views on slavery could cause *some* mortified suburban GOPers to vote for Jones or write-in irascible Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban but it’s anyone’s race as of this writing.

If I were asked at gunpoint who’s going to win tomorrow, I’d say Judge Pervert.  BUT I really don’t know: Roy Moore is an extreme candidate even by the standards of ultra-conservative Alabama. Once again, as a Democrat it’s a win-win proposition whether Moore wins or loses tomorrow but it’s uneighborly for me to wish that on Alabama.

Lose, Roy, lose.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

The Ugliest American

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the worst person ever to live in the White House. He proved it again on Monday with the whole Navajo code talkers-Pocahontas mishigas. It’s not the worst thing he’s said since becoming president* but it’s the perfect distillation of who he is. It’s the context that makes this uniquely awful.

Asterisk-free presidents love ceremonial occasions where they act as head of state. It’s a chance for them to soar above controversy and conflict. The act of appearing non-political benefits them politically. If we had the British system of government, I would never have wanted Ronald Reagan as prime minister but he would have made a helluva constitutional monarch. Nobody did ceremonial occasions as well as the man who played the Gipper. It was one reason for the personal popularity that saw him through the ups and downs of his presidency.

Barack Obama was the second best American head of state of my lifetime. He loved mingling with non-politicians from celebrities to the hoi polloi. Some of the most memorable moments at the Obama White House involved the president interacting with children. Kids love the man, which should have led to his political opponents saying: I don’t like his policies but he’s a helluva nice guy. He was the first president of color so that didn’t happen. Instead, they posted pictures of him as a witch doctor on social media. We all know who those creeps voted for.

The White House ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers was the perfect chance to act presidential. One might even call it a no-brainer; unfortunately, this president* is a no-brainer himself so he blew it by attacking a political opponent. If he had honored the code talkers for their grit, wit, and valor, the ceremony would have been about them. Instead, he made it about him by saying this:

“I just want to thank you because you’re very, very special people,” Trump said to the group. “You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what? I like you. Because you are special.”

The tone is, of course, patronizing. He addressed these elderly veterans as if they were simple-minded fools. I guess the Insult Comedian was projecting again.

Context is everything. This was not an occasion to bring one’s political vendettas to the table, er, podium. Calling Senator/Professor Warren Pocahontas is, in this context, a racist slur as well as typically mean-spirited. Trump’s apologists denied it was a racist insult but the best response came in this  statement from John Norwood of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes:

There are some who ignored the response from Indian Country and defended Mr. Trump, both then and now, with the excuse that the name “Pocahontas” is not a racial slur. When honorably referencing the actual historic figure, this indeed is true. However, the name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult. American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults.  To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs.

There are many in Indian Country who have given various perspectives on Senator Warren’s claim of an American Indian ancestor. There are many non-tribal Americans who make similar claims of indigenous ancestry. Sometimes it is a matter of documented genealogical fact and sometimes it’s merely a matter of family lore. Such private claims, when not used to claim the legal protections or benefits of the citizens of American Indian Nations, cause little or no harm to tribal people. However, degrading an American Indian name or historic tribal reference by using it as an insult is making a racial slur, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The right to determine if it is a slur belongs to those who have been insulted, not the one who made the insult.

I suspect that Pocahontas is the only name of a Native American female that Trump knows. It has lodged in that pea-brain of his as the perfect way to insult Professor/Senator Warren. It is more revealing of Trump’s nature than anything else: he’s a bully and a coward but we already knew that. As his own secretary of state said, “He’s a fucking moron.”

I was also struck by the staging of the event. The podium was placed in front of a portrait of General/President Andrew Jackson who is well-known for his extreme animus against Native peoples. It’s as if the Tuskegee airmen were honored in front of a portrait of John C. Calhoun. This may well be one of the few Trump flaps that was premeditated as a way to pander to the worst of the MAGA maggots out there. The soundbite sounded written, which means it could be the handiwork of Stephen Miller.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ response to this mess was to defend her president* and lie like a poorly woven rug. She may have gone to the loom once too often as it were. This tweet from a certain internet smart ass sums it up rather well:

The White House is the people’s house. That’s why we call sitting presidents the Current Occupant. It’s not just a place for those who voted for the Current Occupant, it’s a place where *all* Americans should feel welcome regardless of their politics. Hospitality is almost sacred in the Greek community so I was raised to treat my guests like they’re honorees at a ceremonial occasion. I’ve wanted to throw people out of my house but have never done so. I do, however, want to throw Trump and his tacky crew out of the people’s house.

I originally planned to call this post That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian hence the meme. I woke up this morning thinking of the book The Ugly American hence the final title. Being an Ugly American should be a “bad thing” as the Insult Comedian would surely interject at this point. It was fashionable during the first Bush-Cheney term but began to slowly fade after Rummy was shitcanned. Ugliness is back in vogue and it’s being whipped up in what Mencken called the “sahara of the bozart” and elsewhere in the boondocks by the Ugliest American of all. The barbarians are not at the gate, they’re in the White House.

Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise

It’s time to visit an old “friend” who I wrote about in 2014 and 2015. Rob Maness ran for the US Senate in both 2014 and 2016 as the wingnuttiest wingnut in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He’s a retired military man with a punworthy name, so I dubbed him Col. Mayonnaise without anyone egging me on to do so. I hear that Mean Mr. Mustard was irked with me but I avoided any dire condiment consequences.

Maness did well in 2014: finishing a respectable third to Mary Landrieu and  Bill Cassidy. His candidacy laid an egg in 2016 and he’s now running as the Trumpiest Trumper who ever Trumped for a Louisiana State House seat in ruby-red St. Tammany Parish.

Col. Mayonnaise has a talk radio show and pitched a fit whilst on the air. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Here’s an account in the Advocate of  Col. Mayonnaise’s Trump-type toddler tantrum:

Maness had been jovial moments earlier as he and the caller discussed Roy Moore, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. Maness had just finished criticizing Republican leaders for working against Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers in the late 1970s.

But his tone changed abruptly when the caller, who identified himself as “Flaming Liberal,” said that even Cruz had asked Moore to step down. “If you’re to the right of Ted Cruz, you’re an extremist,” he said.

“Whoa, you just called me an extremist, brother,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who went on to outline his military background, including top-secret clearances.

“I’ve done everything this country has ever asked me to do. How dare you call me an extremist,” he said. “I’m the most investigated, stable man that the country could have ever given the keys to nuclear weapons to, so you can blow me! You can blow me and get out of here if you’re gonna talk like that and call me an extremist.”

The caller, David Bellinger, a former New Orleans resident who described himself as a frequent talk radio caller, returned fire, saying “Go screw your ma, a-hole,” several times before Maness asked his producer to cut the caller off.

They should have cut the host off as well. I think he needs more time at the firing range so he won’t lash out at callers or voters for that matter.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who still supports Judge Pervert is by definition an extremist.  Like Mean Mr. Mustard, Roy Moore is a dirty old man. Col. Mayonnaise better watch out or he might get banned from a mall for having a potty mouth.

Unfortunately, in the Trump era saying “blow me” on the radio is neither disqualifying nor damaging. Col. Mayonnaise appeals to the angry white men out there. In fact, he’s one of them. But Colonels do not have the “keys to nuclear weapons” and Malaka Maness should know that. Another angry white man without maness has the keys, which is frightening enough. That’s why the Senate held hearings on that very issue yesterday. One result could be a Keep the Football Away From Trump bill. It’s time to intercept the Insult Comedian before he starts lobbing bombs at Little Rocket Man.

Col. Mayonnaise ran first in the primary and is favored to win the special election. Northshore voters seem to like their Cheetos dipped in mayonnaise. The malaka without maness may still blow it if the voters decide he’s soft on perverts. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

The Myth of a Reckoning

I don’t think I find anything as exhausting as I find the constant expectation that Republican voters will realize who and what they are, who and what they vote for, and awake in horror from what is presumed to be a fever-fog to come back to reality.

Trump’s election was gonna do it, hold a mirror up to these decaying segregationists and show them what they are now. They’d recoil, and correct, and behave themselves forthwith, swinging back to the center like the grown-ups we know they secretly are.

Yeah.

That’s happened.

And now Roy Moore is going to be the thing that does it.

If they elect a pedophile, and they seat a pedophile, then oh then we’ll be able to show the world what they’re really like. Never mind that nominating a pedophile should have been the last straw. Never mind that nominating and then electing and then seating an accused rapist as president should have been enough. Roy Moore is gonna be the final nail in the GOP coffin!

Tell it to the zombies smashing coffee makers on YouTube because Sean Hannity told them to. Tell it to the zombies booing football teams they’ve loved since childhood because Pence flounced out of a stadium. Tell it to the zombies gleefully chittering lies all day about Malia Obama being questioned by the FBI.

We all thought BUSH was so bad the GOP couldn’t nominate someone lower and then Sarah Palin came strutting across the stage.

What if the reckoning doesn’t come? What if there is no tipping point? What if they elect Roy Moore and seat Roy Moore and he votes for tax cuts and confirms Trump’s judiciary picks like all the other unsuitable motherfuckers currently fucking mothers up and down the aisles of the U.S. Senate every single day? What then? What’s the next thing that’ll cause this great imaginary self-reflection? What’s the next rung down on this bottomless ladder?

Don’t say they can’t get worse than this. Don’t cheer each act of destruction as getting us closer to some kind of apotheosis. You have no idea how far down this goes.

A.

Fuck Yeah, Virginia

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a fuck yeah headline here at First Draft. The last one was way back in June 29, 2015. I think you know why: there hasn’t been much to celebrate since the emergence of the Insult Comedian as a serious candidate then tragicomic president*.

This morning there’s much to celebrate, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Longtime and/or careful readers know that, along with Louisiana and California, Virginia is one of my home states. Dr. A grew up in Staunton and has family and close friends in Richmond and elsewhere in the Old Dominion. That is why Virginia is my fuck yeah focus even though the news from elsewhere was equally good.

As you can see, the Virginia state flag is particularly vivid. I like this description from 50states.com:

A deep blue field contains the seal of Virginia with the Latin motto ” Sic Semper Tyrannis” – “Thus Always to Tyrants”. Adopted in 1776. The two figures are acting out the meaning of the motto. Both are dressed as warriors. The woman, Virtue, represents Virginia. The man holding a scourge and chain shows that he is a tyrant. His fallen crown is nearby.

The flag is not only vivid, it’s appropriate. Donald Trump is a scourge and wannabe tyrant. The vote in Virginia was a referendum on Trumpism, which was roundly repudiated in the three statewide offices as well as in the House of Delegates. I thought Northam would win but the landslide was unexpected. This is how I summed it on twitter:

It could have said: Son of Virginia beats Carpetbagger from Jersey.

Speaking of twitter, Trump delayed his sales pitch speech to the Korean National Assembly to tweet out this lame excuse:

In fact, phony populist Ed Gillespie embraced Trumpy’s racism and xenophobia. It may have worked in isolated hollers but it killed him in the cities and suburbs. Dr/Lt. Gov Northam was a center-left candidate from the Eastern Shore of Virginia very much in the tradition of past winning Goober candidates Chuck Robb, Doug Wilder, Mark Warner, Tim  Kaine, and Terry McAuliffe. Those Democratic governors helped turn the Commonwealth blue. It’s a pity that they have a stupid one-term rule when they’ve had so many fine Governors. It’s helped in Senate races: 3 of those guys became solons.

There were many things to cheer about last night in the Old Dominion:

  • The hard work of  progressive former Congressman Tom Perriello who lost to Northam in the primary. He not only endorsed Northam but helped him win. Well done, sir.
  • The victory of former journalist Danica Roem in her race. She’s the first openly transgendered person to win a state legislative race. She defeated the author of a bigoted bathroom bill by focusing on important local issues. Well done, madam.
  • The victory of another former journalist Chris Hurst who ran on a forthright gun control platform. You may recall that Hurst’s reporter  girlfriend, Alison Parker, was murdered on live teevee. Well done, sir.

I wish I could say that I thought yesterday’s successes would carry over into the Doug Jones-Roy Moore Senate race in Alabama but I’m dubious. It’s a rabidly red state but Democrats *should* take a flyer on the race. It’s a contest between a civil rights champion and a man who would love to see The Handmaid’s Tale become reality.

Yesterday’s victories, however, will carry over to races small and large in swing states. Republicans in suburban Congressional districts should be shitting their pants. Those with any sense will start putting some distance between themselves and the Insult Comedian. Trump is POISON and Trumpism is a LOSER.

Now that we’ve danced in the end zone, it’s time to go back to work and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. It’s not over until the Fat President whines.

The last word goes to Ray Charles singing the Virginia state song emeritus:

That’s right: state song emeritus since 1997. The Commonwealth has “popular” and “traditional” state songs as well. Who knew? Ya learn something new every day.

Guns Are About Fear and Fear Is About Race

Someone pointed me at this thread and I can’t believe I missed it amongst the steaming piles of garbage flying around last year: 

After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).

Why does everything have to be about race, I can hear you asking, and BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RACE. People don’t fear Chicago because it’s full of guns, they fear Chicago because it’s full of guns in the hands of young black and Hispanic men.

I can’t tell you the number of people who think I’m about to be raped and murdered every time I step out my door because my neighborhood is like 60-40, black-white, and that’s a signifier of violence. Never mind I live in Mayberry, the presence of non-white people is presumed to be a threat to white people. Which I can tell you until the cows come home is bullshit, but there’s a whole media-gun-industrial-complex devoted to making people askeered of the terrible brown threat coming for your white women.

Which is why I keep harping on the media disparity. Right now we’re having lots of hearings and all kinds of angst about Facebook and Google and Twitter bots and if they’re really Russians and all of that is fine but none of it matters if every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest is blaring Fox News and a CNN panel of five Republicans is debating which Democrat is the biggest pussy.

Fix that or all our worries about Bernie vs. Hillary vs. Keith vs. Tom vs. Whoever The Fuck don’t matter.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

Continue reading

None of It Matters

Are we done psychoanalyzing him yet? 

Trump also received acclaim for his recent criticism of NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest what they see as racial injustice in the country. He got another standing ovation when he proclaimed that “we respect our great American flag.”

Bill Bennett, a conservative radio host and former secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, followed Trump and suggested that many of the NFL players were kneeling because they “don’t know any better” and don’t know enough about the country’s history and reverence for the flag.

How’s the “Your Racist Asshole Relative” Administration going so far? How y’all feel? I mean, we’re about to go to war with the ENTIRE axis of evil all at once, everybody’s health care just got fucked, Congress can’t find its ass with both hands, Puerto Rico still has no electricity and I kid you not, Headass Neon Chicken forgot the U.S. Virgin Islands are in the U.S., but is everybody happy with the Fox News comments section? Because that seems to be the only consistent through-line in this presidency.

A.

Viva Puerto Rico: Heckuva Job, Trumpy

Donald Trump’s war on common decency intensified this morning. He woke up angry and decided it was time to lash out at American citizens who need help, not hateful harangues.

Once again, the Insult Comedian reveals his ignorance. FEMA stays as long as it takes for an area to recover. The city of New Orleans is still dealing with FEMA some twelve years after Katrina and the federal flood.

Conditions in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are dire. The vast majority of people are without cell phone service, power, and fresh water. Human beings need clean water to survive. There are signs of a looming public health crisis involving leptospirosis, which is a malady caused by drinking contaminated water. It can be fatal and the cure is a simple one: clean water. This is NOT a disease that people should die of in 2017, especially not American citizens who were promised help by the same president* who is now threatening to wash his hands of them.

Even if Trump’s tweets are meaningless, the message conveyed by them is chilling: the lives of American citizens who happen to be Puerto Rican are less valuable than the lives of people who were hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. And why? Because their government had financial issues before the storm hit? In a word: disgusting.

People are suffering. People are dying. The color of their skin and the language they speak should not matter. Trump’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is a new low point in an administration without any high points. It vividly illustrates that millions of people voted for a man with no empathy whatsoever. He couldn’t be a colder fish if he were a cylon.

I think the gutsy Mayor of San Juan nails it in this tweet:

Now that’s an uppity woman after my own heart. Fuck you sideways, Donald.

As a New Orleanian, I identify with the beleaguered people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. We had to endure a lot of abuse during our recovery effort but the worst of it NEVER CAME FROM THE PRESIDENT. Congressional Republicans treated us like shit and said horrible things but Bush never did. Trump is not only worse than Nixon, he’s worse than George W. Bush as much as it pains me to say that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Heckuva Job, Trumpy.

Doesn’t Matter Where Your Heart Is

Just stop it:

This is why I keep yelling about money. The money behind Free Speech Week, the money behind Fake News, the money behind the NFL and how none of this “unity” bullshit matters until Kaepernick has his job back.

We keep acting like “racist” is an insult instead of an adjective, like it’s something you can be or not be, like it’s not actions. Like it’s feelings. Look, I personally hate a lot of people but I don’t go around punching them in the face. Likewise, I like a lot of people but if I treat them like shit my inner child’s moods don’t really matters that much.

It’s why the “black friends” thing is so laughable. I can have black friends and still speak disparagingly of the predominantly African-American neighborhood next street over as a “ghetto” and airily declare that your schools are the best with no understanding of the history of redlining or its residual effects.

People keep acting like Trump’s imaginary good character is this thing that will excuse his bullshit, and it’s not. You COULD conceivably be a horrible person and a good president; JFK was much better at his job than he was at being a husband, for example, as was a certain male Clinton of our passing acquaintance. Plenty of people who are good at their jobs are assholes.

But Trump is a horrible president (in addition to being a lousy human being), which is the job we’ve actually hired him for. You don’t have to hate an individual brown person to be a racist. You just have to, say, let an entire island of them die and then characterize their requests for federal aid as demands for a handout.

A.

Love Is (Luther) Strange But Roy Moore Is Even Stranger

Yeah, I know, the Senator who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions by disgraced former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley lost to a lunatic. I’d been meaning to use the first part of the title forever but ain’t it funny how time slips away.

Republicans are rallying around the erratic former Alabama Supreme Court Justice. I’m not sure if it’s because of the hat he wore at a recent rally, the gun he waved around, his homophobia, or Islamophobia:

 Those bearhugs come in spite of Moore’s decades-long bigotry and radicalism.

He has suggested the 9/11 attacks happened because America turned its back on God, called Islam a “false religion,” claimed parts of the Midwest were already living under Islamic Sharia lawwarned that “immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land,” and continued to claim that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. — and that’s just in the course of this current campaign.

In past years, Moore has argued Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress and that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.”

Crazy is in right now thanks to Donald Trump and the morons who voted for him. I guess Ken Kesey would have called him the Bull Goose Loony In Chief. Of course, Trump is a sinner and Roy Moore is a religious zealot who’s out to baptize the world. In a sane world, the religious right would hate the twice divorced Trump but, at the risk of being repetitive, crazy is in right now. Bigly.

There are two good things about Moore’s victory. First, Strange’s loss caused a presidential* hissy fit with the tiny finger of blame pointed at Chinless Mitch. Second, Moore is so barking mad that he’ll automatically be the most entertaining member of the Senate. And the most appalling.

The chances of Moore losing the general election to Democrat Doug Jones are slim and slim is  unlikely to turn out to vote in December. The reasons are obvious: it’s Alabama where Trump’s brand of crazy is still popular and Moore’s hardcore supporters will vote even if it’s raining hellfire.

A brief word about Luther Strange. Trump dubbed him Big Luther in the closing days of his doomed campaign. Strange is 6’9″ and played college hoops at Tulane from 1972 to 1975.

He wasn’t much of a player. His stats are those of a graceless white goon, which apparently carried over into his career in Alabama politics. Btw, I still don’t know what the hell a Green Wave is.

I never heard whether or not Moore attacked Strange for having lived in Sin City whilst in college and law school. I guess the big fella (God, not Luther Strange) didn’t tell him to do it.

The lessons of Roy Moore’s success are that bigotry works and that Trump cannot control Trumpism. I doubt if he even wants to: he thrives on chaos and disorder. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. I predict he’ll have an uneasy relationship with Roy Moore who fancies himself a contemporary old testament prophet. Trump is into profits, not prophets.

That last word goes to the song that inspired the post title. I’m not sure what Mickey and Sylvia ever did to deserve this:

 

Heckuva Job, Trumpy

I rarely write the  next day on the same topic as Athenae. It has to be important. It is: Puerto Rico is drowning and the current administration* is throwing it a life-preserver weighted down with conditions. That’s not how our government should treat American citizens. I’m not even certain that Trump knew Puerto Ricans are Americans before Hurricane Maria decimated that beautiful island. If it’s not about him, it doesn’t matter.

I guess Fox News is running stories about Puerto Rico. That could explain why the president* interrupted his #takeaknee diversion with some stray commentary on Puerto Rico’s plight. In his pea brain, if it’s important it must be tweeted about:

This coming from a man who stiffs contractors and declares bankruptcy as often as some people change their socks.  Also, Texas and Florida are not “doing great.” A friend of mine volunteered in Port Arthur, Texas last weekend and they still need help.

The Insult Comedian spoke more positively later Monday about helping Puerto Rico, but with this bozo the initial, off-the-cuff reaction is what matters. He only pretended to give a shit after being subjected to withering criticism. The proof is in the administration’s* refusal to waive provisions in the Jones Act that are interfering with the relief effort:

The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined the request to waive the Jones Act, which limits shipping between coasts to U.S.-flagged vessels, according to Reuters. DHS waived the act following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the mainland U.S.

The agency has in the past waived the rule to allow cheaper and more readily-available foreign vessels to supply goods to devastated areas. But DHS said Tuesday that waiving the act for Puerto Rico would not help the U.S. island territory due to damaged ports preventing ships from docking.

 “The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told Reuters.

In a letter to the department on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) urgedDHS to rethink the decision, citing the agency’s willingness to waive the Jones Act for relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been given the ability to waive the Jones Act to accommodate national security concerns, and has done so twice in the last month,” McCain wrote. “These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions. However, I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.”

The fact that John McCain is one of the members of Congress urging a waiver makes the more cynical among us (myself included) wonder if this is payback for his role in scuttling Graham-Cassidy. It’s doubtful that this decision went to the White House but some ambitious bureaucrat might be pandering to the Idiot in Chief. Let’s hope not. The waiver should be granted. Pronto.

Even if revenge is not involved in this decision, discrimination is since waivers were granted in Florida and Texas, both states with Republican governors. I guess Houston is lucky that Trump thinks it’s a town full of plucky white people instead of one of the most diverse cities in the country. As many have pointed out, one reason Puerto Rico is dying is that Trump doesn’t like “brown people.” That led me to point out something on the Insult Comedian’s favorite medium:

That’s right, folks, Puerto Rico is a white supremacist’s nightmare. It’s enough to give the average MAGA Maggot a migraine or Jeff Sessions a seizure. The late great Roberto Clemente would tell them to STFU and roll up their sleeves to help his people; make that our people. As New Orleans writer Edward Branley said on the book of Zucker:

My post-Katrina/Federal Flood PTSD has not been far from the surface of late. Watching the events in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands reminds me of the dilatory response of the Bush administration as New Orleans flooded. Dr. A and I were in exile in Bossier City and Dallas during the worst parts of the disaster and I recall being approached in the parking lot of an upscale mall in Plano, Texas where we went to use the internet because the cousin with whom we were staying has mildly Luddite tendencies. We were hailed by a man wearing a classic Dallas power outfit: an expensive suit, Stetson, and hand-made cowboy boots. Initially, I thought he was a wingnut prepared to dance on my city’s watery grave. Instead, he said in a thick Texas accent, “I see from looking at your car that y’all are from New Orleans. I bet you’re pissed at that pissant president for fucking you over.”

I bet people in Puerto Rico are pissed at *this* pissant president* for fucking them over. Obviously, NFL protests are more important than suffering in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. #sarcasm. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Our fate is your fate.

UPDATE: After days of lame excuses, the administration* has waived the Jones Act. It’s unclear if a player to be named later was part of the deal.

Forbearance

Just a reminder to my fellow white people:

THERE IS NO EQUIVALENT FOR US OF THE RESTRAINT WE EXPECT PEOPLE OF COLOR TO EXERCISE IN THIS COUNTRY.

We get all bent out of shape and call the fucking 5 o’clock news when the phone company doesn’t give us a $2 refund, but we expect people of color to call a police officer “sir” as he’s threatening to shoot them. As he’s shooting them. After he’s shot them.

We ask why people of color aren’t addressing crime in “their own” communities, admitting that we think of “our” communities as white ones, and then when there are protests we yell GET A JOB.

We equate burning down a CVS or punching an individual Nazi with the institutionalized power of the state sanctioning the murder of our kin, and call whoever gets maddest on the cable news about it the loser in the argument.

We police language, clothing, music, books, and we treat every politely written request to redress decades of systematic oppression as if it’s a demand for a lollipop, but God forbid anyone cut US off in traffic or we make it a federal fucking case.

The onus is always on them to respond in the “proper” way, which is to say not respond at all, while we get to do/say whatever we like wherever we like including the highest halls of government power. And then we want to claim some mantle of oppression? We want to say white people are persecuted?

There’s a white supremacist in the White House because we couldn’t give up the national talking stick to a person of color for 8 measly years without having a freakout of Oscar-winning proportions, and we want to claim we’re the victims here?

I got news for us. We have no idea.

A.

Who Profits When We Fight?

The Daily Cal has been fucking killin’ it on the “Free Speech Week” fiasco: 

When UC Berkeley asked Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and the Berkeley College Republicans to pay nearly $16,000 in security fees for Ben Shapiro’s speech, YAF lashed out immediately, stating that campus administration was taxing conservative free speech.

But public financial returns obtained by The Daily Californian show that every year, YAF spends millions of dollars funding campus events such as Shapiro’s, propped up by tens of millions in annual donations from many wealthy, powerful foundations linked to prominent conservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, the DeVos family and Charles and David Koch.

This organization is the driving force behind many tumultuous, conservative events scheduled on campus. It was one of the many voices that pushed hardest to make Ann Coulter’s controversial appearance at UC Berkeley happen — before pulling its support two days before the event.

Way to go, student journos who are asking real questions while America’s august editorial boards are wanking to that ever-popular tune, The Highest Form of Free Speech is Bowing Down to the Loudest Butthole in the Room. Because there are these abstractions, and don’t get me wrong I will engage you in a debate about theoretical shit all day long, but at the end of the day somebody’s getting paid, and I’d rather talk about that with the limited time we have left on a habitable planet.

Assholes like YAF (a bunch of hoary Nixon bagmen dressing up their regressive segregationism as Hip New Rebellion) WANT America’s elite opinion columnists leading thoughts at their thought leader conferences about the merits of letting someone threaten and scream at you. Their whole schtick is “if you don’t let me call you names and threaten to deport you, you’re a pussy who doesn’t deserve freedom.” Their type has been railing against campus activists since the dawn of campus activism (which came shortly after the dawn of campuses) precisely because they know it plays into the inherent biases of the people they provoke.

That’s their entire game, it always has been, and for the life of me I will never understand the genre of journalism that is basically, “Here is a scam, let me describe how I fall for it.” Glowing profiles of shitkickers like Ann, asking what the sexy new Nazis want out of life, empathizing with very fine people who just want to yell about welfare, that’s been a whole beat for decades now, and its writers want credit for documenting the apocalypse?

Good for the kids at the Cal, for standing up and pointing out what the real problem is here. It ain’t free speech. It’s the very expensive kind.

A.

The Buck Passer In Chief’s DACA Debacle

We all knew it was coming. We all knew that Donald Trump would rescind DACA. I actually believe that he has qualms about ending the program, not because he “loves the dreamers,” but because even he understands the optics of rounding up some 800K young people and deporting them. The title of Josh Marshall’s blog post after the announcement says it all:

Trump Wishes Dreamers Luck as He Tosses Them Out of the Plane

As does this passage in Josh’s post:

What the President is doing is the executive action equivalent of flying the plane up to 10,000 feet, tossing the Dreamers out the door and yelling after them, “I hope you have a parachute or if you don’t that Paul Ryan can get you one really fast!’ Actually, one small difference. He had Jeff Sessions toss them out of the plane.

Yowza.

Trump the phony tough guy  once again proved his cowardice by having true believer white supremacist Jeff Beau make the announcement.  As always, Jeff Beau prevaricated and demonized his way through the statement. I’m surprised he didn’t gleefully rub his hands together in celebration like a cartoon villain. Bigots like Jeff Beau have much to celebrate: mass deportations of service people, first responders, teachers, and on and on and on. DACA has a rigorous vetting process so its beneficiaries are the best of the best. I doubt many people at the Trump White House could pass muster. Slumlord Jared would have to amend his form because he’s such a forgetful boy.

What Trump has done is to punt this clusterfuck to the Congress. The six month deadline is an arbitrary one and major legislation rarely passes both houses in six months or less. The president’s* sole aim is to accept as little responsibility as possible for this heinous and callous action. Feral Trumpers will howl in approval but this is yet another incredibly unpopular move done solely to placate the MAGA Maggots.

There *may* be majorities in both Houses of Congress to pass a new Dream Act. I’m uncertain if there’s a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and dubious that it can get past the so-called Hastert Rule in the House. The rule named for Coach Pervert applies to the Republican caucus: only legislation with majority support in the caucus reaches the floor. There are enough nutbars and white nationalists to keep it off the floor UNLESS the GOP leadership gets around a rule named for a convicted felon. It’s a caucus rule, not a law, after all. Stay tuned but I am not optimistic. Speaker Ryan is as cowardly as the Insult Comedian.

The administration* is sending mixed messages about its DACA debacle. Trump is holding out hope of a change in plans but nobody believes anything he says about anything. If LBJ had a so-called “credibility gap” on Vietnam, Trump has a credibility canyon on everything. I put more stock in a White House memo telling dreamers to prepare for deportation.

A detestation of buck passing was instilled in me as a child. I always got in more trouble with my parents if I deflected responsibility for my words and deeds. They went easier on me if I fessed up and took the blame. Donald Trump is incapable of taking responsibility for his actions. It’s never his fault, the finger of blame always points elsewhere.

Trump’s perennial buck passing made me think of Harry Truman who famously had “the buck stops here” sign on his White House desk. This is Trump’s second pairing with a man whose ass he is not fit to wipe. Trump’s stunning 2016 electoral college victory surpassed Truman’s 1948 shocker as the biggest upset in American political history. Thanks to the DACA debacle, Trump is now fated to be the anti-Truman. Just call him the Buck Passer in Chief.

A new nickname has been born. And a new benign earworm has hatched. Let’s hope it doesn’t come true.

I’ll give the last-ish word to the late Ted Kennedy. It’s the closing passage of his 1980 speech to the Democratic convention. It is *not* about the dreamers but it could be:

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

It’s time for people to both hit the streets and call their GOP Congresscritters. Make the fuckers squirm like the worms they are.